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Creating and operationalising
an Agile PMO

The client situation

In the state of Victoria the Essential Service Commission (ESC) is an independent regulator that promotes the long-term interests of Victorian consumers regarding price, quality and reliability of essential services. Our client is one of the water utilities that fall under the remit of ESC.
In 2018 the PREMO water pricing framework was introduced by the ESC, focusing on five key attributes: performance, risk, engagement, management and outcomes. The Framework is designed to not only set maximum prices a water business can charge but to also incentivise Water businesses to find innovative ways to deliver greater value to their customers.
In response to the introduction of the framework, our client’s strategy and planning team clearly articulated what their customer goals were and a submission was provided to ESC. In parallel a “Customer First” team was established with the responsibility of enabling the strategy and operationalising the PREMO targets and commitments.

The challenge

Our Client provides water and wastewater services to major parts of Melbourne, the city that has been recognised as the ‘world’s most liveable’. Their service area is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia’s fastest growing capital city, which includes over 430,000 homes and over one million residents of diverse cultures. They also have a diverse business customer base that includes some of Victoria’s largest manufacturers right through to the ever-growing hospitality sector.

The challenge was clear to achieve their commitments in the submission to ESC they had to adopt a well-conceived and detailed delivery approach with Customer First at the centre of everything they do every day.

The solution

It was quickly acknowledged by the leadership team that in order to achieve their ambitious targets our client required:

a) an Agile PMO framework that could help transparently manage project portfolio priorities to ensure that they were doing the right things and resourcing adequately

b) an increased cadence and access to delivery data, and

c) their IT capability had to be capable of supporting a shift in focus and process.

Alchemy Solutions worked with the leadership team to maximise the contribution of the individual Customer First team members through the development of a Prioritisation Matrix and the introduction of hybrid agile techniques such as weekly “rally and mobilise” sessions designed to facilitate an improved flow of important information across the team and to act as an important feedback mechanism for the team members.

Central to these changes was a shift towards a “High Performing Teams” mindset that considered strengths and weaknesses across the teams which resulted in a prioritization areas that needed to be addressed and allowed the sharing of portfolio management knowledge tools, frameworks, business case updates and customer insights.

This was complimented by the introduction of resources such as Microsoft Teams as a central method for communications and to support team members working from remote locations. Wiki’s were also created to share knowledge, processes and information; the team was co-located where possible and this helped drive an improved appreciation of what the teams were achieving and how the shift to the Customer First initiative was starting to gain momentum.

Final thoughts

Operationalising into an Agile PMO the “how”, of how our client meets their customer needs in accordance with the high level strategy of Customer First transitioned the purpose of the customer transformation team from being a team that would just make a project “better”, into aligning the roles and responsibilities of its team members directly to the needs of their customers.

The Agile PMO now revolutionises the way in which our client now runs Customer First projects as they start to “live” the intent of PREMO: “to find innovative ways to deliver greater value to their customer” rather than just “tick-box” requirements

Alchemy’s Agile PMO lead created a plan to execute and engage all stakeholders and ensure a common language and approach were utilised supported by the following Alchemy tools and techniques:

  • Alchemy’s Ei5™ method – designed to be engaging and clear for business and technology resources and identifies business ownership as critical to delivery success. The use of agile techniques, tools and rituals ensure that everyone understands their role and conflicts are resolved quickly.
  • People First – Alchemy brings a distinct and holistic people, process and technology approach to each engagement which helps in identifying and remediating blockages to communication and process flows. The identification and prioritisation of customer and employee journey’s ensures line of sight to what’s important – People!